“This was expected!”
That was the reaction of Bacolod Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia yesterday to the dismissal of the election protest filed by former Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella before the Commission on Elections First Division, contesting his proclamation as the winning mayor of Bacolod City in the May 2010 polls.
Leonardia, who won with 93,519 votes, was proclaimed winner by the City Board of Canvassers on May 12, 2010, over Puentevella, who garnered only 86,258 votes.
Leonardia had a total winning margin of 7,261 votes, the Comelec First Division noted.
“I had never doubted the credibility and accuracy of the results of the elections, in spite of the fact that some Comelec officials then were perceived to be identified with Puentevella,” Leonardia said.
He recalled that there was even a show of people power during the 2010 elections that had forced the Comelec to continue and finish the count, he said.
Leonardia said they were then disadvantaged but in spite of all the efforts against them, they won the election. And, as a face-saving measure, Puentevella filed a protest, he said.
“The Comelec decision is, for me, a little bit late. But it was good to note that, in the review, my lead over Puentevella even increased,” he said.
TRUE TO FORM
Leonardia said that what happened was expected, and was true to form, because when they both ran for vice mayor, Puentevella had also filed an election protest when he lost.
Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, who is running for mayor against Puentevella in the May 13 polls, said this shows the character of Puentevella as one who will not accept defeat graciously.
Even before the start of this present campaign, he fielded another candidate with the surname Sayson to create confusion during the elections, Sayson said.
He also said he anticipates that there will be another election protest if he wins over Puentevella because they have seen a pattern.
Sayson said candidates should accept whatever is the decision of the people in the 2013 elections. If one cannot accept defeat, one does not deserve to win, he added.
City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan said the mayor did not file any counter protest in 2010 because he believes in the integrity of the automated election system.
As it turned out, Puentevella was not able to prove that there was massive fraud and irregularity and the denial of his complaint only exposed all the lies in his allegations, he said.
Bayatan also said that, according to the Comelec, Puentevella failed to prove his allegation of massive fraud and irregularity. His vote did not even reach 200 in the pilot count and he needed 1,000 votes to prove his allegations, he said.
This only proves that he does not believe in the accuracy of the automated system or the Precinct Count Optical Scan machine, he added.
Bayatan said it is ironic that Puentevella is running for mayor under the same system which he claimed has massive fraud and irregularity, and under the same institution (Comelec), which junked his frivolous and futile complaint.
Puentevella, meanwhile, said what only matters to him now is the May 13 elections. He is now focusing on how he will win against Vice Mayor Sayson, the Nationalist People’s Coalition mayoralty bet, he said.
In its eight-page decision, the COMELEC First Division said it was dismissing Puentevella’s protest for failure to establish reasonable recovery of votes from the pilot precincts where a recount was conducted.
The results of the recount of ballots by the Recount Committee clearly show that Puentevella failed to show reasonable recovery from the 37 pilot clustered precincts identified by him as his best choice, the COMELEC First Division noted in its order.
Based on the recount results, Puentevella only has 68 valid claims from the rejected ballots, it said.
Puentevella’s claims, assuming all are valid, were not able to reach the 20 percent of the total winning margin of votes, it noted.
The 178 votes claimed by Puentevella could not be considered as reasonable recovery even if they deduct from Leonardia’s votes all the objected 18 ballots and even all the claims to be invalidated, the COMELEC First Division said.
In the pilot precincts, Leonardia still led Puentevella by 3,226 votes, it pointed out.
The average gain of five votes per precinct would not bring the necessary gains in all the remaining contested precincts to overcome the lead of Leonardia, the order added.*CGS